“I don’t want to be fined,” said Mahendra Singh Dhoni as umpiring howlers became as much a talking point as Afghanistan’s dogged resilience in the exciting tie between the two sides in what was an inconsequential Asia Cup match here.
Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik were given leg before by the on-field umpires — Gregory Brathwaite of West Indies and Anisur Rahaman of Bangladesh — even though TV replays clearly indicated that the ball was missing the stumps in both the cases.
Dhoni was dismissed by part-time off-spinner Javed Ahmadi and the delivery seemed to have gone over stumps while Karthik’s dismissal of Mohammed Nabi was bigger blunder as the ball missed the leg stump by a couple of feet.
Kedar Jadhav’s run-out was also a case of bad luck as his bat got stuck near the crease while he was dragging it in. India were set a target of 253 and the match ended in a tie after the team was bowled out for 252.
“There were a couple of run-outs, and a few things we can’t talk about because I don’t want to get fined for it,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation, his irritation quote palpable.
Any public criticism of umpiring decisions invites sanctions from the ICC and Dhoni chose his words very carefully.
However, the stand-in captain was magnanimous in his praise for Afghanistan.
“Their (Afghanistan’s) cricket has improved a lot. The way they have continued from the start of the Asia Cup, it is commendable and we have enjoyed their cricket. It is one country that has risen through the ranks very well,” Dhoni said.
Dhoni felt that Afghanistan excelled in all departments of the game.
“They batted extremely well too. The wicket slowed down later, but they bowled extremely well throughout the game and their fielding was tight too.”
Dhoni was quick to point out that India were not playing their full-strength side also needed to be factored in.
“I wouldn’t say we went wrong in the chase. To start off, it was like a handicap in golf. We didn’t go with a full-strength side. Not enough spinners on this wicket. The first over that a fast bowler bowls, they need to extract swing. We didn’t hit the back of a length area, and we gave away too much initially with the ball.”
He praised the Indian openers KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu for providing a solid start.
“We got off to a very good start with the bat, but the wicket slowed down over the course of the game, so someone should have continued with the bat. Shot-selection is something that we need to work on. It’s good that it’s a tie, but they played really well.
“The Afghanistan guys played really well. 250 was a very good score on this wicket. We could have been on the losing side because of quite a few things that didn’t go for us, so I’m happy with the result.”
Centurion Mohammed Shahzad was, however, a bit dejected that Afghanistan couldn’t register a victory.
“I’m not very happy, we have slogged for 6 hours at the ground without result, but I am happy with the performance of the team. We have a flight tomorrow, so I thought of playing my game freely.